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ARCTIC ARCHIPELAGO - The Searchers For Franklin

James Fitzjames (1813-48)

A Portrait of James Fitzjames

Commander Fitzjames was Franklin's second in command on the Erebus (Franklin being her Captain). Fitzjames entered the navy in 1825. For the next twenty years he had a busy career which included adventures in Syria and China where he displayed spectacular bravery in dangerous situations. "But Fitzjames was not what he seemed. He concealed several secrets, including the scandal of his birth, the source of his influence ..."1

It was only with the expedition being organized that, newly arrived back in England, Fitzjames was appointed to the Erebus. (Franklin was listed as her captain, but Fitzjames "was gazetted a captain a few months after the departure of the expedition.")

"He was," to quote Wikipedia, "physically fit and strong, being tall and well-built. ... He was extremely personable and very skilled in winning the confidence of his superiors [he had the goods on a senior officer at the Admiralty]. Added to this he was highly intelligent and had been very well educated. He had an excellent sense of humour and was always the life and soul of any party or other situation. To judge by his surviving letters and drawings, he was a sensitive writer and an excellent artist."


1 William Battersby, in his review of his book, James Fitzjames: The Mystery Man of the Franklin Expedition

[A LISTING OF The Searchers For Franklin]

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Peter Landry